Silverstone’s new pit and paddock complex, essential in convincing Bernie Ecclestone that the old place can be hauled out of the 1970s and into the 21st century, has the latest piece in the jigsaw puzzle of permissions it will need to go ahead.
The redevelopment has been approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), one of two local authorities involved in the process.
South Northamptonshire Council still has to make its mind up about part of the proposal, which involves selling off land for housing to fund the development.
It last discussed the issue on April 14 when it concluded that “the development brief will only be finally adopted if the British Drivers’ Racing Club can prove that they can only fund their plans for a new pit and paddock complex though an ‘enabling’ development which includes between 130 and 190 new homes in Silverstone village.”
Richard Phillips, Managing Director at Silverstone Circuits, said of the AVDC vote: “This is a turning point for Silverstone and a bold commitment towards the BRDC’s support for motorsport in the UK and for retaining the British Grand Prix.”
AVDC says of the development: “Silverstone circuit falls into both Aylesbury Vale District Council and South Northamptonshire Council areas and the local authorities are working with BRDC on the long-term development and improvement of the site.
“A range of facilities are proposed including a manufacturer test centre, business park, extreme sport and leisure complex, two hotels, a university campus and a welcome centre with a museum.
“The new pit and paddock complex, and the wider development proposals, will help attract more business to Aylesbury Vale and South Northamptonshire and create more jobs for local communities. The British Grand Prix alone contributes more than £30 million a year to the local area.
“If the race were to be taken away, not only would it jeopardise income from the race itself, but also the viability of the circuit in the longer term and the many local jobs it supports.”
The most interesting thing revealed in its statement are details of the plans which relocate the complex from its current location between Woodcote and Copse Corners to a new location between Club and Abbey Corners.
Included in the complex are new garages, a race control building, media centre, hospitality and VIP spectator zones and a paddock for race team vehicles.
The proposals also involve creating a new pit straight with reorganised entry and exit points, a reconfiguration of Club Corner and a new Abbey section.
Sport architect HOK is responsible for the new design which, according to AVDC, should make the circuit more sustainable and benefit the local economy.
Work on the new pits complex is due to start after this year’s British Grand Prix on July 6, and should be completed in time for the 2010 race.
Should that race go ahead, which still seems to be a matter under discussion, with no contract actually signed as we write this…